On mlive today, Killer had an interesting article regarding how he thinks that trading up hasn't worked for the Lions, and is a bad idea in general. He also blames the lack of late-round picks sticking with the team to not having enough. Interesting.
So I started doing some thinking on the matter. I once did a review of Millen's 7 year tenure, but Killer confined his look to the past two years, so I decided to do the same. Since I've already reviewed the prior two drafts as much as one can right now (Article #1 and #2), and I'm feeling a touch argumentative today, I decided give my opinion on how GB was not at all like Detroit two years ago.
First off, lets start with the Packers in general. Although Killer makes the assumption that due to record the two franchises were at the same point is a fallacy -- the Packers had consistency of offense, a hall-of-fame QB, and many talented veterans. Sherman had a couple years of lousy drafts, but before that they drafted quite well. So they had about 3-4 years of a mediocre drafting to get over. Oooh. They also got a new GM at the time. Did I mention yet that until all of those "quantity" of draft picks began developing finally last season (we have yet to see much of Aaron Rodgers, and he was drafted when? 05?) Thompson was being blasted by Fans, Media, and even players, for not doing enough to bring in talent before Farve retired.
Aaron Rodgers now gets to play "franchise savior" now that Farve is gone...after spending three low-pressure years learning the Pro-game from a hall-of-fame QB. And the Lions had...umm... yeah, name me a guy the Lions had around when Marinelli took over to mentor the younger players??
If you look at the Bobby Ross years, the Lions drafted as poorly then as they have under Millen. This is not a new phenomenon -- the Lions had been drafting poorly for three times as long as the Packers when the dual-coaching change took place. Also, they still were mediocre during most of that frame, and thus didn't have multiple top-ten busts hitting the cap, and the roster.
The Packers Offense was always rolling well -- the defense and the Oline needed some work when McCarthy and Thompson came in, but both still had a solid base -- a far cry from the Lions needing Dline, CB, S, LB, QB, and Oline when Marinelli came in. Gee, I wonder why Marinelli has had some trouble?
Besides Farve, GB already had aging veterans who knew the system on the roster who could mentor the younger guys and help them develop. Thus, it makes a lot of sense to trade down, get lots of picks, and let guys compete and learn while the Vets are still there to start. They could stand pat in FA and the draft because they at least had a foundation. Marinelli didn't have the luxury in Detroit. He had to bring in FA to get the veterans because of prior screw-ups that essentially let the best of the Detroit veterans go. (Which wasn't much, sadly.)
I could go on and on about the GB comparison (I used to live in the UP of Michigan, in Marquette, which is more like an extension of northern Wisconsin.), but I think you see my point. The only thing they really had in common was a bad record and a coaching change in the same year (coaching changes usually following bad records indicates they are both sides of the same coin.)
Detroit two years ago (and longer) was like a house that has "burned down" -- if you have seen a house after someone torches it, you will realize it is not "gone" -- cleaning it up properly and salvaging what you can literally often takes just as long as rebuilding the house itself. You need to salvage what you can, clear out the debris, check and re-build the foundation, and then you can go about putting up a new home. It isn't easy, and it takes time.
When restoration companies come in after a fire, they take those items that are possibly salvageable and there are specialist companies that clean them. If they can't get it back to new, then you get new. Kalimba in particular strikes me as that type of deal -- Rod was looking for salvage, couldn't afford to dump everyone at the same time, and hoped he could clean him up -- Kalimba has the physical tools, and even motivation -- but come game day, he just can't seem to put it all together. I don't like the size of the contract he got, although it really isn't but a pittance compared to what even moderate DE's get now. So right now there are 13 players from when he started -- that is all the "foundation bricks" he had left! Now he has a pretty young team, with a good mix of veterans to teach. He had to build it, but seems to be on the right track with the process. He had to get the debris out of the way before he could start building the foundation. As far as I can see, the Lions are getting close to where the Packers were two years ago -- they have good vets teaching up and coming players; they are drafting to upgrade over average starters, with no "must pick" position locking them in; they have a veteran QB starting while a young signal caller(s) [Stanton, and to a lesser extent Orlovsky] are learning in the wings. Now, they need a couple of years for the young guys they already picked to really begin to blossom, and to keep building depth and upgrading units.
I disagree strongly with the assertion that trading up has "always" hurt the Lions. KJ ended up not being able to stay healthy, but was very productive when utilized correctly and on the field. He just spent too much time banged up. Cody has been a disappointment, but may blossom this year. If not, he has still been a serviceable rotation guy. S. Rogers has to be called a success -- they traded a 2 and 4 to move up in the 2 to get him -- he played for the Lions what, 6 seasons? and was a pro-bowl level DT for at least half those plays. Then, the Lions traded him for a 3rd rounder AND a young starting CB. Lets not forget where the Lions would be if they had not traded Rogers. They would be looking at taking best CB available at 15, or in the early rounds...and they would have immediate needs at LB, DE,OT, CB and RB and only 3 picks in first three rounds to fill them. Now, they have 3 major needs, 4 picks to use to fill them, and will be able to get an additional DT late 3rd, or most likely 4th or 5th. Trading up, in the long run, worked out quite well with Rogers.
Stanton, IAF and Alexander are too early to tell, although a 16 game rookie starter who kept getting better as the season out of moving up into the second for a 3 and 5 isn't too bad in my book, that's for sure! Davis was all on the scouting dept by the time you get to that point in the draft; they just didn't get what a T2 corner was. I'm sure hope they do now, from the sounds of the effort Marinelli and his staff put into educating them this off season!
don't get me wrong, I think that there is a time for each strategy. Sometimes just staying put makes you miss out a player you really wanted that someone else is willing to go get. But so far, in the case of Detroit's moves up, I don't really see where the issue is for the most part. If you look proportionately, the scouting department really just wasn't doing the proper evaluation on the late rounders. Lets hope that has changed, or the Lions could have 25 late round picks and not come up with any starters.
Tomorrow I will look at my overall drafting philosophies as we are looking at getting closer to the draft, including advantages/disatvantages of trading up and down, when it is and isn't feasible, and what tactics I think apply to the Lions.
Hope everyone had a great weekend!